Shear wave velocities of prominent geologic formations in the Nelson-Tasman region


  • Liam Wotherspoon University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Rebecca Ryder University of Auckland
  • Andrew C. Stolte University of Canterbury, New Zealand



This paper presents the development of representative shear wave velocity profiles for the prominent geologic formations in the Nelson-Tasman region of New Zealand. Shear wave velocity (VS) profiles to depths of up to 100 m were developed at over 50 sites using a combination of active source and passive source surface wave testing. Using this data and regional geologic information, VS-depth functions were developed for six of the prominent geologic formations. Comparison with existing VS-depth functions from New Zealand and international studies highlighted the significantly higher shear wave velocities of the deposits in this region. VS exceeded 750 m/s for the Moutere Gravels and Port Hills Gravels at relatively shallow depths, representative of rock deposits. However, while the Port Hills Gravels transition to a conglomerate rock below depths of 30 m or less, the Moutere Gravel formation is an uncemented clay-bound gravel. The young gravel and sand deposits have VS higher than those from other regions. As the region is thought to have undergone cycles of geologic uplift, the resulting over-consolidation of these deposits could explain the high VS. Horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio testing was not able to characterise the fundamental site period across the region, likely due to the weak impedance contrast that would exist at the gravel-rock interface at depth. These outcomes highlight the importance of regional geotechnical and geophysical characterisation to constrain the salient features that control potential seismic site amplification and site classification.


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How to Cite

Wotherspoon, L., Ryder, R., & Stolte, A. (2022). Shear wave velocities of prominent geologic formations in the Nelson-Tasman region. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 55(1), 43–57.